Just a Common Whelk Shell (2)

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Study of a Common Whelk shell

Close-up, even the most common seashell picked up on the beach has a wealth of detail in its colour, pattern, and texture that tell the story of what it is and the life it has led, stage by stage: the shape and form, the size, the inherent sculpturing, the fine growth lines, breaks, scarring, and staining. Unusually, this Common Whelk shell (Buccinum undatum) has no attached epibiont organisms like barnacles or sea mats, or evidence of boring organisms like marine worms and sponges. Its black and orange staining show that it has spent some time buried in the sand near the top of the boundary from 5 – 15 cm deep that is a gradation between the anoxic black sediment where mostly only anaerobic bacteria thrive – and the yellow sand above which has enough free oxygen to support the life of immense populations of micro-organisms and to decompose their waste products.

Detail of growth lines and pattern in a Common Whelk shell

Study of a Common Whelk shell

Close-up image of seashell texture

Study of a Common Whelk shell


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4 Replies to “Just a Common Whelk Shell (2)”

  1. Informative as usual Jessica, and the photos could stand alone too. Two elements for the price of one, which is the great thing about your posts.


  2. Thanks, Adrian. I like the way shells look and keep picking them up – I have far too many. I also like what they mean – the stories they tell. I have spent most of my life studying oyster shells, mainly very old ones, to see what secrets they can reveal about the way they were exploited and used by people in the past.


  3. Thank you for the comment. Natural history is endlessly fascinating – you can go deeper and deeper into detail – until you are beginning to understand not only the way things are now but also how they have developed, and how everything is inter-related.


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